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McDonald County students grow plants that are available for purchase

by ALEXUS UNDERWOOD SPECIAL TO NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | July 22, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
COURTESY PHOTO Students and agriculture teachers work together to sell plants out of the greenhouse to community members. Community members are able to shop inside the greenhouse.

PINEVILLE, Mo. -- The McDonald County High School greenhouse class, taught by Emily Hutton, is selling plants this summer for community members interested in purchasing plants or touring the greenhouse.

Hutton, 34, is a vocational agriculture instructor at MCHS as well as an FFA advisor. Hutton recently took over the school's greenhouse class, a class that had about 25 students last year. Hutton said plants grown by the students through the school year are being sold this summer, with proceeds still going back to the program.

"The first part [referring to proceeds from the plants] always goes to building the greenhouse for next year," Hutton said. "And then after that, it goes to, typically, we save up our greenhouse money and it helps send kids to Washington D.C. every other summer for a Washington leadership experience for National FFA."

Hutton said the majority of the plants currently for sale are hanging baskets, which are priced at $10. Hutton said the class teaches students lifelong skills, not only in growing plants but also marketing and selling products. Hutton said the students put a lot of work into their plants.

"The students put a lot of time and effort into them," Hutton said. "And that money stays right here; it helps the FFA chapter so we can continue to expose kids to different experiences they may not otherwise have."

Katy Manley, 25, is an agriculture instructor at the high school alongside Hutton. Manley said working with plants and selling them to the community promotes different types of learning and career readiness for the students in the class.

"First of all, I think it strengthens our students that are in our community," Manley said. "And Ag-Ed is very hands-on learning-based, and the greenhouse is one of our many sources of hands-on learning, not only in the Ag department, but in the high school."

Manley said selling plants grown by students enriches the local community, and with the community's help the greenhouse program at the high school is further funded.

Cammie Holcomb, 16, will be entering her junior year at McDonald County High School this coming school year. Holcomb took the greenhouse class with Hutton last year and plans on taking the class again in the upcoming year.

Holcomb said she loves working with plants, and she loves the creativity it offers her. Holcomb added that community members should buy plants from the greenhouse students to show student support in addition to acknowledging the amount of work students put into the plants.

"The plants that we grow, when you buy a plant you're buying a piece of us too," Holcomb said, laughing.

Holcomb said she is excited for the class in the upcoming school year, as she believes her fellow classmates and Hutton have a better idea of what they'd like to do during the year.

"If you buy from the high school, it's not just 'Oh I'm going to go buy this plant.' It's, 'Hey, you know, my kid grew this and that's pretty cool.' Like I said, you're buying a plant, but you're buying some of our hard work," Holcomb said. "And I just love that about it."

Skylynnda Forcum, 16, will be entering her junior year at MCHS and will also be returning to the greenhouse class this year. Forcum said she loves working with plants and finds tending plants relaxing.

"All of our profit from the plant sales goes back to the FFA program," Forcum said. "And that includes keeping the greenhouse and other agricultural activities running."

Forcum said multiple people shop the greenhouse, making it more of a community area rather than just a classroom.

"We have a variety of members stop by whether it be the teachers, students, staff, but also parents and grandparents of our students," Forcum said.

Hutton said anyone interested in purchasing plants this summer can call or stop at the front office at the high school and an agriculture teacher will assist them. Hutton added that the greenhouse students grow different plants through the school year, offering seasonal plants all year long, which are also able to be shopped in the greenhouse by community members during the year.

COURTESY PHOTO Hutton said there are about 45 plants still available for purchase this summer. All plants being sold are leftover from the last greenhouse plant sale.
COURTESY PHOTO Hutton said there are about 45 plants still available for purchase this summer. All plants being sold are leftover from the last greenhouse plant sale.
COURTESY PHOTO Photo of plants available for purchase this summer. In the winter, a popular plant grown by the greenhouse class is poinsettias.
COURTESY PHOTO Photo of plants available for purchase this summer. In the winter, a popular plant grown by the greenhouse class is poinsettias.

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